Jude Sabio, lawyer for Edgar Matobato who admitted last year that he was part of the alleged Davao Death Squad, files a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte and other senior government officials for allegedly committing a crime against humanity.  (Trillanes Office/Released)

FILIPINO lawyer Jude Sabio, counsel of confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato, filed a case with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague earlier this week against President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 top officials of the Philippine Government for their alleged role in the mass killings of more than 7,000 suspected drug addicts and pushers in an extrajudicial manner.

Atty. Sabio, in his submission, said he wanted the mass killings to stop and that those guilty of the killings be punished.

Without mincing words, he said his aim was to end “the dark, obscene, murderous and evil era” in the Philippines.

In fact, in an editorial (read below), referring to Mr. Duterte, The New York Times ended its commentary with this sentence: “This is a man who must be stopped.”

What is ICC?

The International Criminal Court is an international court located in The Hague, the Netherlands, which was established by a treaty signed by 124 countries, including the Philippines.

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established ICC.

It has jurisdiction over certain international crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are committed by citizens of or within the territory of member countries.

Member countries are legally obligated to co-operate with the Court when it requires, such as in arresting and transferring indicted persons or providing access to evidence and witnesses.

What are the prayers of Atty. Sabio in his complaint?

I’m sharing them as submitted to ICC as part of the 74-page filing.

“For this purpose, in consonance with the legal parameters laid down by the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, this communication will submit to the Office of the Prosecutor the legal and factual basis as to why there is sufficient reason for said Office to look into and analyze the terrifying and gruesome situation of continuing mass murder in the Philippines ‘repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously’ being undertaken by President Duterte.

“More specifically, this communication will demonstrate that the situation of mass murder being undertaken by President Duterte should compel the Office of the Prosecutor, in the interest of international criminal justice and of the thousands of victims, to undertake the following, namely; (1) to CONDUCT a preliminary examination based on this communication and other relevant information from other reliable sources including international human rights groups like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and (2) later to OPEN a formal investigation with the conformity of the Pre-Trial Chamber, if warranted by the situation based on the standards provided for under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“This communication will further demonstrate why there is sufficient factual and legal basis for the Office of the Prosecutor to take the following course of action, namely; (1) to CONFIRM with the Pre-Trial Chamber the proper criminal charges for crimes against humanity against President Duterte and his senior administration officials; (2) to APPLY with the Pre-Trial Chamber for the issuance of a Warrant of Arrest against President Duterte and his concerned senior administration officials for his arrest, surrender and detention pending trial at the Detention Facility at the Hague of the International Criminal Court, in order to prevent them from continuing with the commission of mass murder and to prevent them from killing potential victims and witnesses, and (3) to PURSUE with the Pre-Trial Chamber the commitment of President Duterte and his concerned senior administration officials to the Trial Chamber for appropriate trial, and for a conviction and sentence to a prison term or life imprisonment.”

In a news report from Manila, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II described as “amusing” and “baseless” his inclusion in the case of crime against humanity filed against President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Initially, I found the filing of the case amusing. Not only are the allegations contained therein utterly false, they are purely hearsay,” Aguirre said in a statement.

The New York Times editorial

In a rare editorial decision, the Editorial Board of the most respected and most influential newspaper in the world, The New York Times, ran a scathing editorial on April 25, 2017 titled “Let the World Condemn Duterte.”

It may be recalled that in a number of times in recent past, the Duterte boys in Malacañang and even Duterte himself, irresponsibly accused the N.Y. newspaper of “having been bribed” by Mr. Duterte’s political enemies in Manila and in New York to criticize him.

We would like to share with our readers, unedited, said editorial.

(In the online edition, there was a photo of a 17-year-old a few hours after she was killed by masked gunmen in Quezon City, Philippines, in 2016.)

“A Filipino lawyer formally asked the International Criminal Court on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity over the extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in the Philippines over the past three decades. The I.C.C. should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings.

“The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, filed the complaint in his own name, but he also represents two men who have publicly said they were paid members of the death squad that Mr. Duterte set up in Davao City when he was the mayor to hunt down drug dealers. After he was elected president last year, Mr. Duterte took the killing campaign nationwide, effectively declaring an open season for police and vigilantes on drug dealers and users. In all, Mr. Sabio said in the 77-page filing, more than 9,400 people have been killed, most of them poor young men, but also bystanders, children and political opponents.

“Mr. Sabio is not the first to accuse Mr. Duterte of mass killings — so have Human Rights Watch, in 2009; Amnesty International, this January; and some brave Filipino politicians. The I.C.C. chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, declared last October that the court was “closely following” developments in the Philippines.

“There are reasons why the I.C.C. might be reluctant to go after Mr. Duterte. He is enormously popular with many Filipinos, for whom narcotics are a major scourge.

“The court, moreover, was created to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among member countries only when their national courts are unwilling or unable to do so. Those conditions might be met if the Philippines House of Representatives, dominated by Mr. Duterte’s allies, quashes, as expected, an impeachment motion filed by an opposition lawyer. But there is already more than enough evidence for a preliminary investigation, which would send an unmistakable signal to Mr. Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes, and would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods.

“And if the findings of Mr. Sabio, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and politicians, or the confessions of the former death squad members, are not enough evidence, there are Mr. Duterte’s savage words. ‘Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,’ he told reporters in one of his most outrageous statements (and misstating the figure for the Holocaust, which is six million).

“This is a man who must be stopped.”

What will Pres. Duterte do now?

With an impeachment case filed in the Philippine Congress based on the same charges as filed with ICC, which, if dismissed would strengthen the ICC case because it will show that the accused could not be tried in his home country because he is the president.

This president, now in a Catch 22 situation, has two swords over his head.

What will he do now?

Or, what should he do now?


We join other members of our New York/New Jersey community in praying and wishing for the early and complete recovery of Jenjen Furer, co-host of Makilala TV; blogger at GottaLoveMom; and author of two books.

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